(Sacramento, CA) – Three California-based companies are being recognized as the state’s winners of the 2019 Restaurant Neighbor Award, the California Restaurant Association Foundation (CRAF) announced today. The Restaurant Neighbor Award celebrates the outstanding charitable service performed by restaurant operators throughout the U.S. This award recognizes the impact restaurants and entrepreneurs have made on their local communities. Nationwide, restaurants’ charitable contributions are estimated to be up to $3 billion annually, and more than nine out of 10 restaurants are actively involved in community service.


The recipients of the California awards are: 

  • Taco Bell Foundation – Irvine, CA
  • The Fish Hopper – Monterey, CA
  • Phil’s BBQ – San Diego, CA


The winners will be recognized at the California Restaurant Association’s Restaurant Day at the Capitol on April 23.

“With over $80 Billion in sales annually, and just under a staggering 75K places to eat and drink in California, the restaurant industry is an integral part of all of our daily lives. We are so proud to be able to highlight a few of those standouts, who have had a sustained, positive impact on their communities that goes beyond serving their delicious food.” Alycia Harshfield, Executive Director CRAF


The Winners


Taco Bell Foundation Since launching the Live Más Scholarship in 2016, the Taco Bell Foundation has supported 650 youth with nearly $6 million in scholarships. They have given more than $17 million in grants to youth education organizations across the country with impactful educational programming and scholarships in total. The Foundation’s unique approach focuses on finding the next generation of innovators, creators and dreamers who want to make a difference in the world. To earn one of their scholarships, there are no essays, no test scores, no right or wrong answers. Just a 2-minute video that tells about your life’s passion and how you want to use it to make the world a better place.


The Fish Hopper Through the leadership of the Shake brothers Sabu & Chris, the Fish Hopper Restaurant has supported over 300 non-profits, charities and events by donations, sponsorships and financial support that directly benefit the community. When tragedy struck with the Soberantes Big Sur fire, Fish Hopper rallied to provide food and beverages to the crews fighting the flames. In 2007, Sabu Shake organized a dinner and live auction event entitled “Sabu’s Safari” to raise funds to benefit The Salvation Army/Monterey Peninsula Corps in conjunction with the Christmas Fundraiser done in memory of Sabu Shake Sr. Now an annual affair, to-date, these events have raised over $4,000,000. He has hosted yearly Christmas Toy Drive parties at his private estate and has been able to collect nearly 300 toys each year for The Salvation Army to distribute. 


Phil’s BBQ For the past 10 years, Phil’s BBQ has hosted one of Southern California’s largest tailgate parties to benefit Operation Bigs, part of Big Brothers Big Sisters of San Diego County. Since the launch of Operation Bigs in 2004, it has served more than 1,800 Navy and Marine Corp children. Phil is also honored to serve on their Board. Phil’s BBQ also donates numerous meals each year as well, with notable recipients like the Make a Wish Foundation®. They also donate multiple on-site BBQ’s that raise approximately $50,000 annually for charitable recipients.


About the California Restaurant Association Foundation: a non-profit that empowers and invests in California’s current and future restaurant workforce. Founded in 1981, CRAF supports the restaurant community through emergency assistance grants for restaurant workers facing a hardship, job and life skills training for 13,500 high school students each year, and scholarships.